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Encyclopedia Brown #1

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective

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A Civil War sword...A watermelon stabbing...

Missing roller skates...

A trapeze artist's inheritance...

And an eyewitness who's legally blind!

Theses are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computerlike brain. Try to crack the cases along with him--the answer to all the mysteries are found in the back!

128 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1963

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About the author

Donald J. Sobol

106 books185 followers
Donald J. Sobol was an award-winning writer best known for his children's books, especially the Encyclopedia Brown mystery series. Mr. Sobol passed away in July of 2012.

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5 stars
15,592 (39%)
4 stars
12,736 (32%)
3 stars
8,480 (21%)
2 stars
1,548 (3%)
1 star
740 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 829 reviews
Profile Image for Bill Doughty.
362 reviews18 followers
June 19, 2011
I could say that I loved the Encyclopedia Brown series as a kid, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. I wanted to *be* Encyclopedia Brown. When you're the nerdy kid on your block, and you discover a character who is the smartest kid in school, kind of popular despite that fact, can not only stand up to but often humiliate the local bully, and gets to hang out with the prettiest girl in the school? Yeah, you're gonna wish life imitated art in that case. And in my mind, it actually seemed kind of possible. I was determined to seek out neighborhood wrongdoings, solve some petty crimes, and maybe even win a few friends in the process. I went so far as to paint my own detective agency sign and everything... which my mom proceeded to laugh at. When your mom laughs at you, you know right then and there it ain't gonna work.

The books were still pretty fun, though, even if my all-too-honest mom made it clear I was never going to get to actually live them out in real life. But like so many kids' books that have been continually reprinted through the ages, to older covers were a lot better than what I'm seeing up there. This kid here is way too hip to be the Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown I grew up with!
Profile Image for Matt.
3,618 reviews12.8k followers
November 30, 2019
Neo has taken an interest in the Encyclopedia Brown series, as we work together to crack the cases wide open. We decided to start at the beginning and read some of the initial cases that Donald Sobol created, while laying the groundwork for his epic young reader series. Neo and I tackled a woman who has an expensive necklace stolen, a bank robber who cannot see the error of his ways, and even a watermelon that has a knife stuck inside it. Sobol plants great clues within the narratives and Neo makes a point of guessing every time. Sometimes he is spot on, but other times he needs a little help. I am helping to create my own detective, slowly but surely.
Profile Image for Seth.
122 reviews174 followers
November 20, 2007
Give this to the nearest 6-10 year-old (or adult who wants to be 6-10 years old again). It isn't the "can you solve it, too" mystery aspect, although that's fun enough, it's the attitude: Brown loves--and doesn't fear--a good problem, he wants to help people, he has a good relationship with his family, his friends trust and accept one another while recognizing their individuality, and the underlying sense of justice, both moral and civil, is a valuable lesson to every kid and a valuable refresher course for everyone else's adulthood certification.

The Hardy Boys solve mysteries as adventure. Nancy Drew solves mysteries as an obsession. Jupiter Jones solves mysteries as ego. Danny Dunn solves mysteries as education. All of these are good and fun and laudable and worthwhile for kids to learn from.

If you only have one message to teach a young friend, Encyclopedia Brown solves mysteries because a) he has skill to keep exercised, b) he cares about the kids who come to him, and c) he has his father's sense of justice and service. That's the one I'd pick.

...But make sure your young friend knows about Jupiter Jones and Danny Dunn as well.
Profile Image for Scott Rhee.
1,791 reviews63 followers
February 26, 2020
"Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective" by Donald J. Sobol was a great series, and I think I read all of them. More than once. I thank (or blame) this series for starting me on my love of the mystery genre. These are gateway books. Finishing this series will lead one to read the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, then to Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Parker and Sue Grafton, until one day you find yourself strung out on Lee Child or Robert Crais. Be forewarned...
Profile Image for Alex.
1,419 reviews4,284 followers
August 29, 2011
A sudden fit of nostalgia prompted me to buy and read this. It took like half an hour. It was pretty fun! I love the old-school vision of America, sorta Tom Sawyer-y, where boys spun eggs for fun and 25 cents was a treasure.

Most of the mysteries are not as mysterious as I remember them. You know how each story ends with "How did Encyclopedia Brown solve the case? Flip to page 80 to find out!" and you gotta figure out what his big clue was? Well, it's generally pretty obvious. One of them got me but it was totally cheap. And the last one, where Yeah, I didn't know that. Although I figured it out anyway from context and because I'm a fucking genius.

Anyway, it was a fun way to kill half an hour. Sure, it's worth buying for your ten-year-old.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 40 books391 followers
July 3, 2022
No, I'm not the target audience of this book, but I so enjoyed it. It was a book that got me thinking and I loved the format. This would be a great family read-aloud book.

If you enjoy middle-grade fiction. Or are looking for books to help build your kids logic skills, this is a great book
Profile Image for Alex.
Author 3 books20 followers
August 28, 2015
So I've gone back to revisit this after being reminded of having read these pretty voraciously when I was in the target demographic. I still remember some of the trivia learned from reading these.

With greater perspective, I appreciate the desire to teach logical thought and attention to detail. However, these are significantly less engaging to me now as then. On the plus side, they're all over quickly, so they never really overstay their welcome.

The one thing that I don't recall noticing before...what on earth is up with Charlie Stewart? Does no one think it...odd...that he collects teeth? This boy has a jar of human teeth, and collects teeth of all other kinds. Did Mr. Brown somehow fail to observe this kid wearing all black while reading an EC horror comic inside a copy of M R James? He's going to be voted most likely to stuff another classmate in the trunk of a car. I just can't quite wrap my head around this kid.
Author 2 books8 followers
February 12, 2015
I used to like this series when I was little. Much more so than I liked Nancy Drew; in fact, I think Nancy Drew may be one of the most overrated children's-book characters out there.
I liked Encyclopedia Brown's books because they were short, and I could often figure out the solution to the mystery on my own. Granted, the evidence Encyclopedia cites is often very weak, and would never stand up in court, but still, not bad for a ten-year-old.
I do think his police-chief father needs to retire. He lives in a small, safe beach town but he needs this kid to solve such petty cases? Please. Here's a little ditty I composed, with apologies to Jim Croce:
Smart, smart Leroy Brown,
Dumbest Dad in the whole damn town.
Profile Image for Sylvester (Taking a break in 2023).
2,041 reviews72 followers
May 2, 2021
Squirt and I had fun trying to solve the mysteries - we even got a few!
For a kid who's mostly doing somersaults on his bedroom floor or humming "acka backa soda cracka"while listening to me read, he did alright.
I might read more from this series to him later.
Still on the lookout for a book that will absolutely rivet him. I was hoping to be able to read Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe and all that wonderful stuff to him one day, but I'm beginning to think that will never happen.

*sigh*
I'll keep on trying.
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,680 reviews2,291 followers
July 9, 2009
I would go to the library and check out 10 of these at a time. I *loved* Encyclopedia Brown :)
Profile Image for Pooja Banga.
800 reviews81 followers
December 14, 2018
A Civil War sword...A watermelon stabbing...

Missing roller skates...

A trapeze artist's inheritance...

And an eyewitness who's legally blind!

Theses are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computerlike brain. Try to crack the cases along with him--the answer to all the mysteries are found in the back!
Profile Image for Steven R. McEvoy.
2,949 reviews97 followers
August 1, 2016
I picked up this book because Barry Lyga made mention of it on his blog. I recall knowing the name but had never read an Encyclopedia Brown book until recently. Growing up with a dual form of dyslexia I did not read a lot of books when I was younger. In fact it was high school before I really became a reader. And maybe that is why I read across so many genres and love reading a good children's, middle grade or young adult book. I am very glad I added these books to me to be read list. It is always interesting starting a series of books that is finished and has a number of books. There are 28 books in the Encyclopedia Brown Books, a few have had title changes but 28 books is a long series no matter how you look at it. If they are all as good as this one I have a lot of reading ahead of me.

Encyclopedia Brown, born Leroy Brown is a ten year old detective from Idaville. He has a great gift for seeing through the straw and finding the needle. It all started one night when his father the Chief of Police shared details of a case over dinner and Encyclopedia pieced it together quickly. That summer he decided to open his own business the sign reads:

Brown Detective Agency
13 Rover Avenue
Leroy Brown, president
No case too small
25Cents per day
plus expenses

And with that the adventure begins. The cases in this volume are:
The Case of Natty Nat
The Case of the Scattered Cards
The Case of the Civil War Sword
The Case of Merko's Grandson
The Case of the Bank Robber
The Case of the Happy Nephew
The Case of the Diamond Necklace
The Case of the Knife in the Watermelon
The Case of the Missing Roller Skates
The Case of the Champion Egg Spinner

I had to read the solution for a few but after that I slowed down paid closer attention and figured them out. I am really looking forward to reading these with my son and oldest daughter. They are fin light easy to read mysteries.

My criteria for enjoying a book intended for young reads are 1. did I enjoy it as an adult, 2. do I want to share it with my children or children I know, 3. can I say yeah this was a good read regardless of intended audience? This book hits all three. And as such it was a great read. I have already gone on and read book two in this series and know I will read some more soon.

Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More.
Profile Image for Kwoomac.
811 reviews32 followers
January 19, 2014
So fun rereading this book from my childhood. In case you're not familiar with Encyclopedia Brown, here's what happens. He is a boy detective (10 years old) who gets paid, mostly by neighbor hood kids, to solve mysteries. So each chapter is a different case. The client lays out the details, Encyclopedia (geez, that's mouthful. What do his friends call him?)thinks about it for a while, sometimes doing a little investigating, and then he announces he has the solution. The reader has the opportunity to try and figure it out before turning to the back pages of the book, where the solutions and reasoning is revealed.

I am proud to report that I was able to solve nine out of ten mysteries! Of course, having read them all before did give me an advantage. Plus, one of the suspects was named Bugs Meaney. Obviously, he was up to no good! I guess I should be embarrassed that I didn't get them all, but I read it aloud to my husband and he didn't guess it either.

I'm not sure if this book will appeal to middle-grade kids today.The book was written in 1963 so it's pretty dated. There is mention of gangs, but mostly these gangs of older kids play card and softball, and set up contests to see who the cleverest kid in the neighborhood is. I'm not telling. Wouldn't want to to spoil it for you.
Profile Image for Kirk.
Author 25 books107 followers
November 23, 2019
I found this in a pile of scholastic books at my wife’s library in the donation pile. It’s the same cover as the one I had as a kid.

Out of the mysteries contained inside, I figured out two. I’m 38 years old . . . and I only figured out two 😂

It was great to revisit these. I couldn’t really remember much of them.

I have fond memories of Encyclopedia. I remember my grandmother would tape episodes from the HBO show on VHS because I didn’t have cable. I was already sucked in by TV and video games, but Encyclopedia Brown was short enough to keep my interest during my short attention span.

These read insanely fast now. The font is large, spacing generous, and mysteries short.

Almost feel like I’m cheating this as I try to speed towards 100 books for this year.
Profile Image for Teri-K.
1,997 reviews43 followers
March 6, 2018
Evidently even modern kids can enjoy these classic stories of the brilliant young detective. I checked this one out of the library for my reluctant-reader eight year old grandson and he dove right in. He's read it twice and asked me to get more next time I'm there.

Part of the attraction is that each story is only a couple of pages long. Then the reader is asked to identify what clues Encyclopedia used to solve the case, and given the page they can turn to and see if they got it right. This interaction keeps the reader going happily through the book. I remember devouring these when I was little. I'm glad they're still around for my grandkids. :)
Profile Image for Chi.
587 reviews30 followers
May 23, 2020
As I wrote here, this series of books still hold up well. Or perhaps I'm reading them nostalgically? Still, they're fun, and I like being to solve the mysteries by flipping straight to the back of the book!
Profile Image for Steven R. McEvoy.
2,949 reviews97 followers
January 10, 2016
I picked up this book because Barry Lyga made mention of it on his blog. I recall knowing the name but had never read an Encyclopedia Brown book until recently. Growing up with a dual form of dyslexia I did not read a lot of books when I was younger. In fact it was high school before I really became a reader. And maybe that is why I read across so many genres and love reading a good children's, middle grade or young adult book. I am very glad I added these books to me to be read list. It is always interesting starting a series of books that is finished and has a number of books. There are 28 books in the Encyclopedia Brown Books, a few have had title changes but 28 books is a long series no matter how you look at it. If they are all as good as this one I have a lot of reading ahead of me.

Encyclopedia Brown, born Leroy Brown is a ten year old detective from Idaville. He has a great gift for seeing through the straw and finding the needle. It all started one night when his father the Chief of Police shared details of a case over dinner and Encyclopedia pieced it together quickly. That summer he decided to open his own business the sign reads:

Brown Detective Agency
13 Rover Avenue
Leroy Brown, president
No case too small
25Cents per day
plus expenses

And with that the adventure begins. The cases in this volume are:
The Case of Natty Nat
The Case of the Scattered Cards
The Case of the Civil War Sword
The Case of Merko's Grandson
The Case of the Bank Robber
The Case of the Happy Nephew
The Case of the Diamond Necklace
The Case of the Knife in the Watermelon
The Case of the Missing Roller Skates
The Case of the Champion Egg Spinner

I had to read the solution for a few but after that I slowed down paid closer attention and figured them out. I am really looking forward to reading these with my son and oldest daughter. They are fin light easy to read mysteries.

My criteria for enjoying a book intended for young reads are 1. did I enjoy it as an adult, 2. do I want to share it with my children or children I know, 3. can I say yeah this was a good read regardless of intended audience? This book hits all three. And as such it was a great read. I have already gone on and read book two in this series and know I will read some more soon.

Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More.
Profile Image for Lo.
295 reviews8 followers
October 2, 2008
Oh Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown. If only every town's criminal activity involved puns and word problems! Criminals in Idaville are bad at two things: telling lies and getting away with crime. Thanks to a ten year old nerd and his friend Sally.

It's bizarre that despite being the CHIEF OF POLICE, the kid's father brings home work every night and has poor Leroy solve all the town's crime over dinner. I always found that kind of sad (even as a child). Of course my parents are high flying medical professionals which I suppose is a little more complicated then solving crime.

I'll be honest I had been legally drinking for a good decade before I was able to solve one of these things without looking at the solution featured in the back.

Despite being really interesting mysteries the writing is TERRIBLE!
Profile Image for John of Canada.
895 reviews53 followers
October 3, 2017
I never read these books when I was a child,but now that I'm going through my second childhood I thought I would give it a go.It's nice to spend time in gentler times.I managed to solve a few of the crimes and considered becoming a detective,but I don't think I could survive on 25 cents a day plus expense.Do kids still read these books.I'd like to think so.
Profile Image for Brynn.
3 reviews1 follower
May 26, 2013
I loved this series as a kid...and may have read it when last week in the closet. :)
Though when you think of it, a lot of his evidence isn't very sound. Like this kid destroyed a tent because he was wearing short sleeves.....
2,253 reviews
February 4, 2019
This is a re-read as an adult of a book I remember loving as a child. I still enjoyed it now! Encyclopedia pays attention to what's around him, thinks deeply, and enjoys helping people - we could all use some of that in our life.
Profile Image for Maria Carmo.
1,809 reviews46 followers
January 2, 2018
Going back to youth books can be a funny experience: for instance, this book has ten short detective stories in which the reader can try to guess who the culprit is, and why... It is an insteresting exercise for our "grey cells", as Poirot would put it!

Maria Carmo,

Lisbon, 9 December 2016.
Profile Image for Chad Harper.
15 reviews
October 13, 2017
Speaking of Encyclopedia Brown, I can remember this one time when my cousin was over for the weekend and we were playing D&D and video games all weekend and ran out of pop. I was going to ride my bike up to the store to get some. The store was about 8 miles away, by the way.

It was raining pretty hard that day, but I didn't care. I had ridden in the rain before and I really wanted some pop. Only problem is, my bike had a flat so I needed to use my little brother's bike.

Well, he was trying to tell me to not take his bike. I thought this was because he didn't want me riding it because I was a complete jerk to him pretty much all the time. So, being ever on brand, I was a jerk and ignored him as I rode away. Whilst descending a fairly substantial hill a short distance from home, the bike chain popped off the sprocket, locked the rear tire, and sent me over the top of the handlebars.

I had biffed it plenty before, but almost all of those times were because I was acting like an idiot, so I sorta knew it was coming. Not this time. Luckily, I absorbed most of the fall with my face and my arms.

Turns out, my brother didn't want me to ride the bike because, get this: The chain routinely popped off the sprocket when it rained. Pfft. Thanks for saying so, bro.

Oh, so Encyclopedia Brown. It's been a while since I read it. I seem to remember liking it.
Profile Image for Mustakim.
367 reviews33 followers
July 1, 2021
Mr. and Mrs. Brown had one child. They called him Leroy, and so did his teachers.
Everyone else in Idaville called him Encyclopedia because of his excellent intelligence.

First I thought this would be some kind of detective novella but this book has some kind of riddles in it. Encyclopedia Brown solves the riddles/mysteries/cases but he doesn’t tell you how he solves them. You’ve to use your brain and think on your own. At the last pages you will get your answer of how Brown had solved the cases.

This will be a great book for the childrens under ten years old but I think I'm too old for this 😅

Rating - 3/5
Profile Image for Noninuna.
846 reviews35 followers
March 20, 2019
More like 3.5 stars.

I recommend this especially for reluctant readers who need help for their comprehension skill because this book is structured in a way that for every chapter, there's a new mystery given and the solution for the mysteries is provided at the end of the book instead of the end of chapters. It encourages readers to think. And for adult, it's fun to check your attention to the text.

The downside of the story is there's no over-arc plot, no depth for the characters (we only know them for their names & basic behavior) and one plot hole of common practice in Chapter 9. Still, it's a enjoyable read.

Profile Image for John.
82 reviews
July 31, 2022
"I can see why I liked these so much as a kid. I'm sure that the critical thinking skills I developed were in part thanks to these books. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Pepper liked it too. Yolanda was listening as well!"
Displaying 1 - 30 of 829 reviews

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